Jul 1, 2022 - Things to Do

What Arizonans need to know about Fourth of July travel

Illustration of an airplane on a runway shaped like a "no" symbol.
Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Between flight delays and cancellations and surging gas prices, traveling has been a nightmare this summer.

  • Don't expect it to get any better over the holiday weekend as 920,000 Arizonans are expected to travel during the next few days, according to AAA.

What's happening: Pent-up travel demand after two years of pandemic restrictions has led to a global vacation spike. But airlines are facing staffing shortages and can't meet the demand.

Yes, but: Airlines had two years and billions of dollars in government aid to make sure they were ready for passengers to return to the skies after the pandemic, Axios' Joann Muller reports.

Price hikes: Increased demand means travelers are paying more nationwide, according to AAA.

  • The average cheapest airfare is 14% more than it was at this time last year.
  • Mid-range hotel rates have increased about 23%.
  • Daily car rental rates have decreased 34% compared to last year, but are still about $40 more per day than pre-pandemic rates.

By the numbers: Eighteen flights were canceled and 163 flights were delayed into or out of Sky Harbor on Thursday, according to FlightAware.

  • Nationwide, there were ​​471 cancellations and 5,120 delays.
  • This is mostly because of airline staffing shortages that could persist into 2023, Muller reports.

Know your rights: By law, "a consumer is entitled to a refund if the airline canceled a flight, regardless of the reason, and the consumer chooses not to travel."

  • You're also entitled to a refund if there's a significant schedule change or delay — usually two hours or longer — and you opt not to travel.

Worth knowing: Delta has issued a systemwide travel waiver this weekend for travelers to rebook at no charge as pilots picket outside Delta hub airports to pressure the company to speed up its contract negotiations, Axios Atlanta's Emma Hurt reports.

Meanwhile: The average price of gas was $5.43 per gallon in Maricopa County Thursday.

  • A year ago, the statewide average was $3.13.
  • In California, (which we think is Arizonans' favorite road trip destination), gas prices have topped an average of $6 per gallon.

Zoom out: Car travel is still expected to break records this weekend with an expected 42 million people hitting the road across the country, per AAA.

The Arizona Department of Transportation announced there would be no full highway closures this weekend.

A Sky Harbor spokesperson said to anticipate crowds this weekend and check your flight status before leaving home.

  • You can also utilize the free PHX Reserve program to reserve a spot in the TSA security lines.
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